Friday, April 26, 2013

Living Abroad: Starting Over, Friends edition

In continuation of my last Living Abroad post, I have been thinking about the great parts of living abroad and the challenges. One challening thing that both Nicholas and I agree on is the constant starting over. Not the finding of an apartment and where to buy your food, opening new bank accounts and learning your new home culture, but the struggle of making friends. The starting over with who you will spend your weekends with, who you will go for hikes, bike rides and runs with, who will be the people you try a new restaurant with or share a meal in your home, and eventually will be there to share your deepest secrets, wipe your tears when things are rough and cheer you on when things are well.

Living abroad makes your circle of friends extremely important. They become your family for the holidays and the people you count on when you need an extra hand. Friends are always important, but being away from home, with no immediate family to call on, they are it. 

I love to be around people and I cherish my friends. However, this time coming back to Seoul, I did not want to make friends again. Getting older, I think we get more particular about the people we hang out with. I love meeting people and trying new things, but at the same time, I also just would like to have a solid group of friends who are available and ready to go out at a moment's notice. Although it is incredible the amount of time I can spend with my best friends and family on skype, hangout, phone and whatsapp, I realize that actual human contact is important, too ;)

It is especially difficult this time, because Nicholas is gone. So, instead of hanging out with many of the couples we normally see, I am flying solo. Which in some strange ways, is a blessing in disguise. I am forced to put myself out there and start over. One of my closest friends has moved away and the group of people that we know here is very nomadic. Lots of people moving in and others moving out. So, for the nth time, I am starting over.

One thing I have discovered by doing this, is that I am doing things that I "normally" wouldn't do. "Normally" meaning my life when I was in the States. I would not go to random gatherings solo, I always would invite friends to a museum opening, lecture, cocktails at an embassy or other such event. Here, I have no choice. My closest friend here is a mom and she has a little baby to take care of at night when most of these events take place. So, I walk into a room by myself, take a deep breath and dive in with a smile.

So far, I haven't crashed.

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